Saturday, June 21, 2008

Off season. Part I

Off season is one of the best and worst aspects of being a professional dancer in the United States. Aside from a few weeks here and there, layoffs typically occur during the beautiful summer months when the outdoors are pristine and community festivals abound.

The time lends itself to both a little rest, relaxation and reflection. It is also a time for professional development. Some dancers get "day jobs" in offices or retail to experience another kind of employment option. Often dancers take training courses in things such as yoga, pilates, and gyrotonic.

But where is the art in the summer? What about our culture makes us so fancy free and out-of-doors that we forget the pursuit of the thing we enjoy the most? Why can't we get those butts back in the seats when the summer hits?

Not to mention create the opportunity for dancers to be employed for a few more weeks per year? It is a disappointing realization that dancers in Europe get 13 months of employment whereas the average contract in the states is closer to 30 weeks (my own research based on companies of budgets over $750,000).

Fortunately there are summer dance opportunities popping up on the radar all the time. I recently learned of a company that tours the southern states based out of Alabama. There are summer festivals such as Jacobs Pillow and American Dance Festival that present concerts that keep established companies working for some time in the summer. Plus there are summer companies such as National Choreographers' Initiative, Chautaugua, and Terpsicorps. This is all just to mention a few, and more in the ballet genre of American dance.

More resources and observations as the off season unfolds, for now its off to a wedding. Oh yeah, many dancers choose to address "real life" events- like weddings- when they are off season because then friends won't have performing conflicts. Time to celebrate!


Edward said...

A couple more summer opportunities for dancers to consider.

I have had a number for friends from both Sacramento Ballet and Eugene Ballet spend the summers in Helena Montana both as dancers and choreographers for Sallyann Mulcahy's Artisan Dance project. I've spoken with her via email and she has been very considerate.

Also, if you ask around you may find that there are several opera festivals around the country during the summers. They provide a great way to diversify your skill set and network through a broader arts community, not to mention the performance opportunities. This summer I've been engaged for 10 weeks by the Utah Festival Opera to perform in Aida, Manon Lescaut, and 1776.

Brittany Fridenstine-Keefe said...

There are in fact a number of opera opportunities I have heard of that employ dancers. Cincinnati's Opera company employed a number of dancers from around the nation last summer. Colorado Opera just completed a run of "Nixon in China" that employed several dancers to perform choreography by Sean Curran. There are many opportunities in the New York /New Jersey area that I just learned of as well.

I have heard a number of great things about Sallyann Mulcahy"s project as well.